Posts Tagged ‘Greg Knight’

Sketch of Ventriloquist Ray Alan and his Character, Lord Charles

November 30, 2022

I’ve been doing a bit more sketching of past comedy acts and comic actors, and one of these was of the late ventriloquist Ray Alan and his dummy, Lord Charles. Charles was a true-blue member of the aristocracy, making sharp wisecracks and retorts. He’d pointedly comment on himself or somebody else after they’d done something he thought stupid that they were ‘a silly ass’. Looking back in retrospect, he also seems to me now to have been slightly squiffy. That’s the character, of course, not Alan himself. The two are one of my favourite ventriloquist acts. I never got on with Keith Harris and his cast of characters, Orville, the green duck in a nappy that couldn’t fly, Cuddles the monkey and so on. It was all much too sentimental for me. But there was none of that with Alan and Lord Charles.

According to Wikipedia, Alan began his showbusiness career very young. He entered a talent contest at his local Gaumont cinema in Lewisham when he was five. When he was thirteen, he got a job as a call boy at the town’s Hippodrome theatre and started performing magic tricks during acts. He then added ventriloquism and playing the ukulele. He later toured the world as a cabaret act, performing with Laurel and Hardy in 1954. Lord Charles made his debut in a charity performance at Wormwood Scrubs prison and the doll’s appearance was based on Stan Laurel. Like many of the other acts I’ve drawn, Alan made his first TV appearance in the 1960s on The Good Old Days and returned to the programme several times subsequently. It was also in the 1960s he appeared on the children’s TV programme Tich and Quackers, about a small boy, Tich, and Quackers, his pet duck. Alan also a created another character, Ali Cat, for the 1977 ITV series Magic Circle. He also presented the BBC Ice Show for two years. He also appeared as a guest on the comedy series, Tell Me Another, which ran from 1976 to 1978, with Sooty on The Sooty Show in the 1983 episode, ‘Soo’s Party Problem’. The next year he appeared on Mike Reid’s Mates and Music. In 1985 he appeared as the special guest in Bob Hope’s birthday performance at London’s Lyric Theatre. The next year he presented a Channel 4 series on ventriloquism appropriately called A Gottle of Geer., which he also wrote. He also appeared on Bobby Davro’s TV Weekly in 1987. He also wrote for other comedians, including Tony Hancock, Dave Allen, Morecambe and Wise and Bootsie and Snudge, and the 1985 programme, And There’s More, which starred Jimmy Cricket. This was often under the pseudonym Ray Whyberd. He was still working well into seventies, including at conferences and corporate events, and in 1998/99 he was one of the acts entertaining the guests on the luxury liner the QE2. Ill health forced him to take a break from recording, but he never ruled out returning to it. His last appearance on stage with in 2008 at a charity concert in Bridlington organised by his friend, the MP Greg Knight.

He also made numerous appearances on panel and game shows. He was the host of Where in the World and the children’s quiz, It’s Your Word. He also appeared on Celebrity Squares, Give Us A Clue, Family Fortunes, 3-2-1, and Bullseye. He was also a guest on the Bob Monkhouse Show, the Des O’Connor Show and Blue Peter. On the radio he was a guest on Radio 2’s The Impressionists from 1974-5 and was its host from 1980 to 1988. In the 1970s he made four appearances on the long-running Radio 4 panel game, Just A Minute, and presented the edition of the News Huddlines, also on Radio 4 on 29th October 1975.

Apart from his stage, screen and radio appearances Alan was also a literary man. From their titles, I think they were thrillers – Death and Deception (2007) A Game of Murder (2008), and Retribution, published in 2011 after his death. They were all published by Robert Hale. The year previously, 2010, his novel Fear of Vengeance had been published by F.A. Thorpe. He wasn’t the only comedian with literary aspirations. Way back in the 1980s I came across an SF novel about genetic engineering in one of the local bookshops in Bristol by Les Dawson. I didn’t buy it, partly because I wondered if it really was that Les Dawson. But it was, and I now regret it, as it would have been interesting to read his views on the subject.

This Fortnight’s Private Eye on the Lies of Ian Duncan Smith

March 23, 2016

The issue of Private Eye for this fortnight, 18th – 31st March 2016, also has a little piece on the long series of lies uttered, if not spouted, by Ian Duncan Smith. It’s in response for Smith claiming in the pages of the Daily Mail that the opponents of Brexit are using ‘spin, smears and threats’. Which of course, the Dishonourable Member would never do. Except that he has. Frequently.

When he was running for the leadership of the Tory party in 2001, he claimed that he had turned down offers of a place in the government so as to be able to continue opposing the Maastricht Treaty. His memory must have been playing tricks on him, because John Major, the Prime Minister of the period in question, stated that he never offered aIDS a job. Smudger’s office then issued a ‘clarification’, admitting that he had really only been offered the job of parliamentary private secretary – which the Eye describes as ‘the lowest form of unpaid bag carrier’ to Jonathan Aitken by one of the Tory whips, Greg Knight.

Then in 2002 Michael Crick from Newsnight had a peek at the Quiet Man’s claim on his CV at the Tory party website to have gone to Perugia University. Er, no, he didn’t. He went to another educational institution there, but didn’t complete his exams and didn’t get a diploma.

He was also criticised by the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot, for claiming that 8,000 people, who would have been affected by the benefit cuts, have been moved into jobs, and that this demonstrated that the cap was working. Dilnot said instead that this was false, and not supported by the official statistics from his department.

The Eye then proceeds to discuss the decision of one of the judges at the administrative appeals chamber, Nicholas Wikeley, which upheld the judgement of the lower tribunal that the DWP should issue details from the report on how his Universal Credit project was progressing. The Eye notes that this was the third such legal judgement that had been made. Smiff has tried to fob the public off with the excuse that the report’s publication on why the project is overtime and over budget would have a ‘chilling effect’ on its operation. Wikeley instead stated that the Gentleman Ranker had offered no such evidence for this.

Mike’s covered the Ranker’s long history of lying and fantasising over his blog, and the Eye’s article is yet another public reminder that IDS is congenitally incapable of telling the truth. Perhaps there should be an award given to the most flagrant and prolific liar in the Tory party, just like there is the Orwell Prize for the best literary work on politics. I suggest we call it the Archer Prize for Fictional Politics.